Once we set the clocks ahead and enjoy the sun into the evening hours, I no longer feel like spending an hour or more in the kitchen, cooking. Do you experience the same phenomenon at your house? Everyone is outside having fun, and we often don’t eat until 7:00 during the warmer months; the last place I want to be is stuck inside with the oven on!
While fall is the season where I pull out my cookbooks and look forward to making cool-weather foods, spring is the time to forget about cooking. Since neither our pockets nor our waistlines would appreciate a steady diet of fast food or convenience items, though, I’ve needed to come up with some quick and easy recipes to make dinnertime happen with minimal effort. Here are some ideas:
- Cook al fresco. We often eat on our lanai (a screened in back patio, for our less tropical readers) in the spring and summer, so it’s the perfect time to forget about the indoor kitchen and fire up the grill. Hotdogs and hamburgers are good standbys, but we’ve also made kabobs out of cubed chicken breasts, vegetables and even fruit. Some foods that grill well include pineapple chunks, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and zucchini. Boil up some rice on the side burner, add a little bit of Italian dressing or balsamic vinegar and oil, and you have a great warm-weather meal.
- Serve up salad. You can make various types of salad ahead of time, and store in the fridge for dinner time. Some examples include pasta salad, potato salad and coleslaw. Save tossing the green salad until just before dinner to prevent wilting of the lettuce and tomatoes. Or toss tomatoes, cukes and onions with oil and vinegar ahead of time, and keep refrigerated for a few hours while the flavors marinate. Slice up crusty bread to accompany this meal.
- Eat tacos or fajitas. If you keep the fixings around, you can brown up some chicken or ground beef with seasonings, put out tortillas, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, cheese, olives and your family favorites on the table, and call dinner served. A bag of frozen corn can be microwaved in 5 minutes, making this a meal that takes 20 minutes to make from start to finish.
- Don’t neglect your leftovers. Whenever you have leftovers, put them in a glass or plastic storage container and freeze for longevity. After a few weeks have passed, you should have a good collection. Let everyone choose their favorites, pop them in the microwave and dinner is done.
- Breakfast for dinner. I find that making pancakes takes a long time, but if you have a large electric griddle, then it might not be a problem for you. Scrambled eggs, brown-n-serve sausage, toast and sliced fruit are fast, easy and liked by almost everyone.
- Ice cream. I know, I know, this is not a healthy, responsible meal! Still, our family enjoys eating ice cream sundaes for dinner a couple of times each summer. If we’re going to eat it anyway, I figure it might as well count as a meal! Either hit up the local ice cream shop, or buy sundae fixings and let each member of the family make his favorite. These are days that your children will remember and talk about years later… just don’t do it too often!
What are your tried-and-true warm weather favorites?